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Do you think that Beatrice and Benedick are well-matched? 'the two bears will not bite one another when they meet'- Claudio, Act II Scene 2 'Thou and I art too wise to woo peaceably'- Benedick, Act V Scene 2

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Introduction

24th October, 2005 GCSE ENGLISH Item Two: Shakespeare MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING Do you think that Beatrice and Benedick are well-matched? 'the two bears will not bite one another when they meet' - Claudio, Act II Scene 2 'Thou and I art too wise to woo peaceably' - Benedick, Act V Scene 2 We are first introduced to these two characters in Act I Scene 1, but before the two characters actually meet, there is a discussion about Benedick between Beatrice, Leonato, Hero and the Messenger. In fact, the very first thing that Beatrice says is: "I pray you, is Signor Mountanto returned from the wars or no?" In this question, Beatrice is inquiring as to the whereabouts of 'Signor Mountanto' who in fact is Benedick. From this quotation, it is possible to argue that Benedick always seems to be on Beatrice's mind and that they are well matched, for he is the first person to whom she refers. The quotation also conveniently anticipates us for Benedick's entrance. When he does eventually enter, it is evident how well-matched the two really are owing to their similar perceptions of how to live their lives. In their 'merry war', there are 'skirmishes of wit': "I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me." This metaphorical statement impresses on the minds of the audience the thought that Beatrice is actually much more fond of Benedick than it appears. ...read more.

Middle

There is dramatic irony at Benedick's expense as the audience and the other three characters know where Benedick is while he thinks they don't. The exact same thing happens to Beatrice, but in this case Hero, Ursula and the audience hold an advantage over her. In each of the gulling scenes, the two have to listen to the people saying such things about them that they never thought about before and, since they cannot reply because it would give away the fact that they are hiding, they have to listen to what is being said; this is how the two receive their educations about themselves. In Benedick's gulling scene, his friends rebuke him for being contemptuous of women ('hath a contemptible spirit'). In Beatrice's gulling scene, her friends castigate her for the same moral flaw, being contemptuous of men ('she is so self-endeared'.) The interesting thing to note is that, at the end of each gulling scene, the gulled one comes forward and delivers a soliloquy. In Benedick's case, he speaks in prose and admits disingenuously that he really did have feelings for Beatrice all along and, whilst he used to be against the idea of marriage, 'doth not the appetite alter?' Beatrice, however, speaks in verse and recognises the fact that she has been too proud of being a virgin ('maiden pride, adieu.') As a result of the gulling scenes, the two individuals undergo an education about themselves that convert them from hubris to nemesis and they resolve not to bicker like 'two bears' any longer. ...read more.

Conclusion

Is not that strange?' Beatrice appears shocked that Benedick has had the courage to say this, but it proves beautifully that Benedick really is now a complete man. It is not long, however, before Beatrice also says, 'I love you with so much of my heart that none is left to protest.' This serene statement illustrates how Beatrice too has become a complete woman. In this exchange, the two no longer try and outdo each other like 'two bears that bite one another when they meet', but instead say how much they love each other in a mature manner. However, the atmosphere changes after just a few more lines when Beatrice demands something of Benedick that truly tests his feelings: 'Kill Claudio', basically telling Benedick to kill his best friend! Had these lines not been in the play, one would have thought that Beatrice and Benedick would have just professed their love for each other and tried to fix the Claudio-Hero problem together; however, they were never ones to 'woo peaceably.' At first, Benedick refuses to kill Claudio, yet by the end of the scene it is obvious that he feels so strongly for Beatrice that he actually resolves to challenge Claudio to a duel. Shortly after this vital scene in the growth of Beatrice and Benedick's characters, in Act V Scene II, Benedick's new sense of character is tested again, but this time by Margaret. ...read more.

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